The following tragic story appeared on the front page of the January 15, 1894 issue of the Chicago Daily News:
“Jumped into the River – Suicide of a Well-Dressed Woman at Clark Street Bridge.
A young woman whose clothing and appearance indicated that she came from surroundings of comfort, perhaps wealth, jumped from the north end of the Clark street bridge at 6 o’clock this morning.
Her body was soon recovered and taken to Sigmund’s morgue, 73 5th avenue.
The suicide took a desperate plunge, one that showed her determination to die. There was no hesitation on her part and although the bridge officer was on hand a moment after the plunge and soon got the body out he came too late.
Shortly after 6 o’clock she appeared, walking rapidly from the north end of the bridge to the narrow railing, which high above the water runs along the south side of the saloon on the west side of Clark street at that place. Officer Van Dusen saw her, so did the bridge tender, but neither could reach her in time to save her life. She climbed quickly over the railing and sprang into the river, disappearing amidst the pieces of floating ice. The officer soon drew the body out but life was extinct.
On a plain pine table perhaps six feet long at Sigmund’s morgue lay a figure barely outlined beneath a stained, white cotton sheet. The room was so dark and cheerless as to strike horror to a person entering from even so foggy an atmosphere as wrapped the city this morning.
This table stood directly in the path of what light was given from a single gas jet which shone with such feebleness as to enhance rather than dispel the gloom. Beyond in the deep shadow stood two other tables, each with its ghastly burden.
With gentle hands the man in charge of the place drew back the sheet. The spectacle presented was heart-breaking. A woman, perhaps 30 years of age, lay beneath it, with eyes sealed and blue lips apart. The face looked as though some sudden trouble had aged it within the last few hours. One hand tightly clenched lay across her breast and the other hung by her side. Over one poor, pale cheek a tiny drop of water trickled slowly and found a resting-place just below the ear in a crease in the neck. She was a pretty woman and one who appeared to have known what the good things of this life were. Her dress consisted of a black-and-white figured challis wrapper of good quality and underclothing of fairly fine linen, trimmed with hand-crocheted lace.
No mark – not a handkerchief or initial anywhere – gave any evidence as to whence the dead woman came or who she was. From her attire it appeared as though her departure from home had been hasty and unprepared. The tangled locks, still dripping with the horrible river water, were of a soft, bright brown and had evidently been carefully dressed before she took the fatal plunge. Only a woman in fair circumstances, at least, and of fairly good taste would arrange her hair in such fashion so early in the morning – at least, unless the sad step was premeditated, which, judging from her dress, it was not.
Just so might any wife and mother appear at her breakfast table seven days of the week in her cozy home. Around the lower portions of the body was the shawl in which the police had wrapped the body on removing her from the water. Beneath that was a heavy quilted petticoat of black sateen. She weighed about 140 pounds.”
Is this front page story part of your family history? If you know the identity of the woman above, please share her story with my readers and me.